Comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been “damaging” to Paulo Dybala, says Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri.
The Argentine forward opened the 2017-18 campaign in style, netting 12 times in eight appearances across all competitions earning billing as one of the finest talents in the global game.
He has, however, added just three efforts to that tally and endured a humbling slip out of favour in Turin.
Allegri insists that there has been no breakdown in his working relationship with Dybala and believes that the 24-year-old will come good again if given the freedom to further unlock his undoubted potential.
The Juve manager said: “The relationship with him absolutely hasn’t changed, also because Dybala came to Juventus three years ago and I think he’s grown a lot, Juventus put even more emphasis on his qualities and he’s given a lot to Juventus.
“In my opinion, he still has huge margins for improvement. The comparisons which were made at the start [of the season] were damaging for Paulo, but fortunately he’s a smart lad and he understands you can’t compare a lad of 24 to two sacred monsters of football [Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo], who have won 10 Ballons d’Or.
“Plus there’s Neymar who is another that is close. So Paulo has to make his own way and not be compared to any other player.
“He has his own qualities, he’s an extraordinary player. You just have to watch him to see he’s different from the others.
“But these comparisons which were made were a bit damaging, these are comparisons which can not and should not be made, you can’t compare a 24-year-old lad to two who have won 10 Ballons d’Or. But in Italy…
“It’s not just Dybala, Dybala is the least of that problem. There are lads who play half an hour and the next day they’re worth €40 million.
“‘The future of Italian football is this lad, we’ve found the new Andrea Pirlo… no. There was only one Pirlo, and it will be many years before another Pirlo is born.
“Lads have to be left to grow, for a player to be great he has to show it in at least 100 matches in Serie A. Not 100 appearances, 100 matches. Right now after two games we throw everything on these lads.
“I understand that the world has changed, but it’s too much, and it’s normal that they can get lost in it. How many of these lads have been lost in the arc of their careers?”
Dybala found the target in his last outing against Genoa, with that effort breaking a run of six games without a goal.
The challenge now is for him to rediscover his spark, especially with major silverware on the line and places in Argentina’s squad for next summer’s World Cup up for grabs.